Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Renewable Energy Award

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Renewable Energy Award

Article excerpt

Winner: Biofuels Corporation, Seal Sands.

Also nominated: SembCorp, Wilton, Middlesbrough Football Club.

Production got under way earlier this year at the world's biggest biofuels plant, based in the Tees Valley.

Biofuels Corporation is behind the multi-million pound facility at Seal Sands, which converts vegetable oil into fuel.

And it is already planning further expansion.

By 2008 it hopes to have two additional 200,000 tonnes-a-year plants in operation at Seal Sands.

Biofuels has appointed Lurgi AG, a supplier of biodiesel plants, as its technology partner to undertake detailed engineering design work.

The expansion would enable the company to produce at least 650,000 tonnes of biodiesel a year.

Biofuels Corporation currently employs around 50 staff in the Tees Valley. Building of two additional plants would take its workforce to around 100.

Paul Jackson, commerce and community enterprise manager with Renew Tees Valley, said: "My colleagues began work with Biofuels at the very early stages of the project ( right from the beginning of development.

"We were working with them for a good two years before the plan was announced.

"We could see that the concept was sound, the technology was good and there was a real market out there for its product.

"The company did go through some tough times when it faced some financial problems last year, but we'd done our homework and we knew this plan would work."

Mr Jackson added: "Although it is a new sector it also plays to our traditional strengths and skills.

"The plant is the biggest of its kind in Europe.

"That's important for our region for a number of reasons.

"A project of this scale shows Tees Valley is really serious about the renewables sector.

"We're about both the small companies and the very biggest of projects.

"It's also acted as an indicator to others out there that this region is the place to be for the big players."

Other biofuels firms based in the Tees Valley include D1 Oils of Middlesbrough ( which is already in production.

US-based Losonoco has announced plans for a pounds 100m plant at Billingham.

And Vireol of Stokesley aims to build a bioethanol plant in the Tees Valley.

Renew Tees Valley has worked with Biofuels Corporation on a number of issues from helping them study potential feedstocks to finding a suitable site.

It also worked with them on technology and linking them with other companies.

"The company is now planning further expansion ( and as they go into the second phase of development we're working with them further," added Mr Jackson.

"We're hoping to involve more local companies in the process and develop the supply chain even further."

Biofuels is also a great example of how this industry has a wider impact on the community. …

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